Instructions for writing research plans at lime



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Instructions for writing research plans at LIME

Different departments at Karolinska Institutet have different traditions regarding research plans for doctoral students. It may not be sufficient to fulfill the requirements of another KI department to fulfill the requirements at LIME. You need to take a closer look at the requirements we specify below.



Please note that LIME is a multidisciplinary department. Therefore, the research plan should be written in a way that is understandable to readers from different fields of research.
  1. What the research plan should include


We would like to stress that the doctoral student’s research plan is just that: a plan from the present perspective that will most likely evolve and change over time. The primary focus of the plan should be principal aspects of the research project rather than individual sub-studies. We therefore urge you to spend time and effort considering and explaining the following:



  • Knowledge gap

    • Describe the knowledge gap and how the doctoral project will address it.

  • Research aim and central research questions

    • What is the overall research aim of the doctoral project?

      • Research aims (relating to the knowledge to be acquired) are sometimes confused with healthcare aims (such as improved health or wellbeing for a certain patient group).

      • An aim does not refer to what will be done e.g. to carry out an analysis or evaluate a method, but to the purpose of doing these things.

    • What central research questions (related to the overall aim) will the research answer?

      • Central research questions show how the research aim is meant to be achieved: “We will accomplish this aim by answering the following research questions...”

  • Main methods

    • An introductory general Methods section in the research plan is required. Describe the main methods of data collection and analysis that you plan to use. If applicable, describe theoretical underpinnings that are relevant for your research.

  • Specification of sub-studies

    • Describe aims and methods for each sub-study

      • Sub-studies should not be confused with papers. The number of sub-studies is not necessarily equivalent to the number of papers that will be written, since a sub-study may generate more than one paper.

    • It is acceptable not to have decided everything at this point in time. Describe the sub-studies that have been planned so far and clearly state what is yet to be decided. It is recommended that at least the first one or two sub-studies are specified in some detail so that the admissions board can evaluate whether you understand where to start and what may lie ahead.



  1. Structure of the research plan


The research plan should be structured as follows, using the headings listed below:

  • Title

  • Introduction/Background

    • Make your introduction as succinct as possible. This part easily gets disproportionately large.

    • Describe the knowledge gap at the end of this section.

  • Overall research aim and central research questions

  • Methods

  • Plan for sub-studies

  • Significance

  • Ethical considerations

  • References



  1. Formatting instructions and other things to consider


  • Length: Max 5 A4 pages, including tables and figures, but excluding references.

  • Typeface: Times New Roman (or other serif font), 12p.

  • Line spacing: should not be below 1.

  • Page layout: Margins min 2.5 cm; include page numbers.

  • Tables and figures: Tables and figures must contain captions and should be numbered and referenced in the text. Please check that figures are readable when printed and photo-copied in black and white.

  • References: Follow a standard referencing style in a consistent way. A maximum of 30 references is allowed.

  • Abbreviations: Keep the number of abbreviations to a minimum.

  • Time plan: does not have to be stated in the research plan.



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